City-scape of downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles

The Law Office of Peter Niemiec is located in San Pedro, which is the historic harbor district of Los Angeles. Although most people associate Los Angeles with the entertainment business, Los Angeles has a long history as a critical port and an industrial center.

San Pedro Bay was used as a harbor as early as the settlement of the Los Angeles area by Spanish missionaries in the eighteenth century. In 1907, the City of: Los Angeles created the Board of Harbor Commissioners, marking the official beginning of the Port of Los Angeles. The Board of Harbor Commissioners administers all of the land at the Port of Los Angeles, acting as a trustee for the people of the State of California. In this role, the Board of Harbor Commissioners leases land and facilities for shipping, warehousing, bulk fuel storage, and container operations. The Law Office of Peter Niemiec has worked on ground leases in the Port of Los Angeles and is familiar with the challenges of negotiating such leases with a government entity. Because of the long industrial history of the Port of Los Angeles, many of these sites present complex environmental cleanup issues.

The Port of Los Angeles and the adjoining Port of Long Beach together constitute the largest port in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth largest port in the world. The Port of Los Angeles is also a world leader in minimizing the environmental impacts from port operations. The Port of Los Angeles became the first port to offer Alternative Maritime PowerTM to ships berthed in the harbor. This system reduces air pollution and improves environmental quality by allowing cargo ships to turn off their engines while at dock and be powered by cleaner, on-shore sources of electricity.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are not far from Signal Hill, California. Signal Hill overlooks the combined harbors. The hill after which the City is named was used by indigenous Indians to send smoke signals, which could be seen as far as Catalina Island. In the 1920’s oil was discovered in the Signal Hill area. In the 1920’s and 30’s the hill was literally covered by oil derricks. Since the oil field has been largely depleted, the City of Signal Hill has focused on redeveloping most of the area. Peter Niemiec has substantial experience in addressing issues raised by redeveloping former oil fields into new uses, such as commercial centers and residential tracts. He has worked on the cleanup of such sites. Peter has worked with numerous toxicologists, whose expertise is a necessary component in determining whether former oil filed sites are safe for redevelopment. Peter has also negotiated the contract terms in the sale of such sites - which often include complex release, indemnity and cleanup provisions - to real estate businesses that redevelop these sites.

The Los Angeles Basin has also been a major center of the aviation and aerospace industries from the 1930’s to the present. These industries, and those that supported them – which include metal forming, plating, and electronics manufacturing – often caused significant soil and ground water contamination in the era before extensive environmental regulation in the 1980’s. As manufacturing declines in the Los Angeles Basin, many of these former facilities must be cleaned up before redevelopment can occur. Peter Niemiec has extensive experience in structuring purchases and sales, as well as ground leases, of facilities presently or formerly contaminated by these industries.

Releases of chemicals from aerospace facilities also caused widespread contamination of the aquifers under the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, which led the EPA to designate both areas as Superfund sites. The Law Office of Peter Niemiec has represented parties identified as “potentially responsible parties” by EPA, handling the defense of lawsuits and obtaining settlements. Peter Niemiec has also successfully structured purchases and sales of properties in these Superfund areas, including properties that were known sources of contamination.